INDIANAPOLIS – The Rev. Bob Farr’s Friday, May 30, teaching session encouraged Indiana Conference members to turn back to their early Methodist roots.
Farr, who is Missouri Conference Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence, believes the modern United Methodist congregation is focused more on making members rather than making disciples of Jesus Christ.
“We were not an established church,” Farr stated, “we came by horse. We were missionaries. Somewhere we went from missionary to member.”
In order to touch base with our roots, we should ask the question that John Wesley asked, “What was the most important thing Jesus said”?
The answer is to love the Lord with everything we’ve got. Farr believes we need to be on fire for Jesus. “If we are going to go forward friends, we need to recapture our fire.”
Along with our recaptured fire for Christ, Farr also encouraged the conference members to rethink how they view service. He said he believes United Methodists are good at charity in our communities, not mission in our communities. We are good at collecting materials to hand off to other agencies to distribute, but he doesn’t classify that as mission work. Instead, he hopes United Methodists go back to their roots of the missional church that got out into communities to build relationships and serve neighbors.
Farr stated, “Somewhere along the way, we have frozen in place.” The average United Methodist shares Jesus with someone every 38 years. Instead of sharing the Good News with others, he sees United Methodists stuck in their ways “playing church.” Instead, United Methodists need to shift their focus on developing relationships with the people right across the street from the church because the most important person, in greeting new people to a church, is its members. Members need to start seeing themselves as missional outposts for the church.
Farr specifically addressed clergy on how they should handle developing relationships outside of their current congregations. Pastors have two mission fields – those you know and those you do not know. Clergy have been trained to be shepherds and chaplains, only keeping care of the flock they have.
Farr challenged clergy to see themselves as shepherds and leaders willing to try new things and to become outwardly-focused churches. He also challenged laity to protect and stand behind their pastors.
He challenged clergy to get out of their offices and laity to get out of the building and develop disciples of Christ in the communities they serve.
Farr challenges Hoosiers to be missional.